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Fear overwhelms north town as battles rage across borderline

By Raed Omari - Jun 30,2018 - Last updated at Jun 30,2018

A photo posted on a local website covering Ramtha news shows a house in the town damaged by a shrapnel from a stray projectile from the raging fighting across the border (Photo courtesy of Ain Al Akhbar news website)

RAMTHA/AMMAN — Residents of the northern town of Ramtha, some 80km north of Amman, have expressed deep concerns about the large-scale suffering of the Syrian people in Daraa and the possibility of more mortar shells crossing the border. 

For nearly two weeks, the Syrian army, backed by Russian aerial support, has been launching a massive bombardment campaign against the rebel-held towns in Syria’s Daraa province, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising.

Syrian military and strategist expert Alaa Al Asfari was quoted in the Russian Sputnik news agency as saying on Saturday that the Syrian army’s operations were ongoing against the opposition holdouts in the  southern province of Daraa, adding that “each 48 hours, the army gives an 8-hour break for settlement and reconciliation efforts”. 

Claiming that 55 rebel-held villages in Daraa have so far fallen to the Syrian army, Asfari added that the government forces would arrive “in few hours to the Nasib border crossing with Jordan” .

‘Regime will win’

“Whenever there is heavy bombardment on Daraa, it is an indicator that the Syrian regime [of President Bashar Assad] is recovering the rebels’ strongholds in the central, northern and eastern parts of Syria,” Ramtha resident Mohammad Abu Aqoul said.

“We in Ramtha always expect the Syrian army to march southward towards Daraa after winning major war fronts in Damascus, Aleppo, Raqqa and in other cities,” Abu Aqoul said in an interview with The Jordan Times on Friday. 

Similar remarks were echoed by Mohammad Salman, who lives less than a kilometre from the borderline with Syria. “Daraa is seemingly the last major Syrian city outside the regime’s control.”

“Assad’s forces’ attack on Daraa was expected following their offensive on Eastern Ghouta,” Salman said, also expressing concerns over the falling of stray shells from the battlefield into his city and the other border towns. 

Damascus’ suburb of Eastern Ghouta was the focus of heavy bombardment by the regime’s forces in April. 

According to news reports, Daraa is the last major Syrian city not completely under the Syrian army’s control.  Many of the opposition forces have been sent to northwestern Idlib from other cities, including Aleppo and Homs, under deals reached with the regime.

“We hope to see a near-end to this intensive assault on Daraa for there is certainly large-scale suffering for our Syrian brothers behind these roaring sounds of explosions we hear day and night,” Mohammad Smeirat said.

Mortar shells

Residents of Ramtha have also said that a number of stray mortar shells have landed on their border town as a result of intensified fighting in the nearby Daraa.

Local websites reporting news about Ramtha claimed that dozens of mortar shells have lost their way into their area since the beginning of the attack on Daraa almost two weeks ago.

According to the Ramtha’s Ain Al Akhbar news website, nine of these projectiles fell on a farmhouse in Al Turrah village on the border with Syria, causing slight injuries to people there.

Jasser Al Masri, 42, was quoted in the report as saying that a number of people were slightly injured by the flying shrapnel.

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